From the sacred to the profane? Not quite. Patrick Berry has another of his Seven Sages puzzles: this one with a quote from George Carlin. I tried the obvious quote, but it fell (appropriately) four letters short. Next time they publish one of these, I do it in pencil. By the time I finished, my grid was about as messy as Bangle's room, thanks to the two or three times I put answers in the wrong locations. Just sloppy solving: when I had the common letters for 21 and 22, I would put them in the 20/21 spaces.
Nathan Curtis offers a Snake Charmer this week. I thought it was a breeze. The first few letters of most of the answers were enough to clear up anything I was unsure about.
Behind the NYT paywall is a Mel Taub Puns and Anagrams puzzle. I might have said this before, but Puns and Anagrams is good batting practice for cryptic solvers. The key difference is that indicators are left out of many clues. If at first you can't parse the clue, assume it's an anagram. Anyone want to solve it for time? Post your times in the comments.
UPDATE: The solution is below the fold. Once you're done with that one, why not browse the rest of our Sunday brunch and pick out a few more puzzles to solve? The Hex puzzle immediately below is a good intermediate-level cryptic that Puns and Anagrams solvers should be able to get through, while the Tom Toce variety puzzles I featured in a couple of recent posts are an easy introduction to variety cryptics.
And of course there's the Hex cryptic in the National Post. Of course it's themed. Solve it and then call your mother.
Mark Halpin's Sondheim-inspired puzzle is a really polished work. I don't know if he edits his own work or has someone else do it, but the grids are tight and symmetric, and the clues are well-written. Halpin also manages to find the "difficult but not impossible" sweet spot a lot of constructors try for. You think you'll never get the meta, but soon there's a toehold, and a couple more pieces, and then the "aha" moment where the whole theme comes together. Like a Bach fugue.
And speaking of music, happy birthday to Raydoc, who's not a musician himself but has a good ear and particularly enjoys the work of Soviet era and post-Communist composers like Arvo Pärt and Henryk Górecki.